My Mañana Comes: In brief
Elizabeth Irwin's play peers behind the kitchen door to look at the lives and dreams of four busboys at a fancy Upper East Side restaurant. Chay Yew directs the premiere.
My Mañana Comes: Theater review by David Cote
At restaurants, one scrutinizes the wine list more than the sociopolitical forces tearing at the staff. The fellows whisking your plate away and replenishing your water glass? You’re supposed to ignore those industrious ghosts. So thanks to playwright Elizabeth Irwin for her workplace dramedy, My Mañana Comes, here’s a wistful (but not sugarcoated) portrait of busboys in an Upper East Side eatery whose hopes and struggles are the main course.
Each attendant has his own reason for putting up with the idiot managers and fussy customers. There’s Peter (Jason Bowen), a divorced dad who takes pride in his efficiency and natural leadership. The newbie is Whalid (Brian Quijada), a wisecracking motormouth who dreams of passing the EMT test. Jorge (José Joachín Pérez) and Pepe (Reza Salazar) are undocumented workers sending money home. Jorge is monkishly focused on buying a house back in Mexico, but Pepe finds it harder not to spend what little coin he earns.
Irwin sketches, with a light but precise touch, the mix of camaraderie and playful abuse among the men. Tensions between working-class New Yorkers and the illegal immigrants come to a head when the boss decides to end shift pay, meaning everyone lives off tips. Jorge and Pepe have to accept it; the others can’t. Director Chay Yew and his appealing actors create rich, layered characters and a persuasive working environment. Although the piece raises more complex social issues than it can address in 90 minutes, Irwin writes fast, funny, lived-in dialogue. I look forward to what she serves up next.—Theater review by David Cote
THE BOTTOM LINE The fare is quite tasty at this busboy drama.
Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote